Thursday, September 13, 2007

Approximately 600 teachers were murdered across Iraq in the 2006-2007 academic year

And you thought we had it bad.

Read the whole story here.

Here is an excerpt:

The chaos caused by violent attacks and kidnappings is felt at nearly every level, with students misbehaving and missing class, and teachers refusing to come to work. Approximately 600 teachers were murdered across Iraq in the 2006-2007 academic year, according to the ministry of education.

"Education in Baghdad's schools is a joke," said 35-year-old Ali Abdul-Hussein, who has moved to a different Baghdad neighbourhood and pulled his two children out of school because of the violence. "The ministry [of education] can't provide education and protection for our children."

The day-to-day operation of schools is disrupted by the number of displaced students moving in and out of educational institutions. The education departments in both al-Karkh in west Baghdad and al-Rasafa in the east are packed with parents appealing to bureaucrats to move their children to safer areas of the city or postpone their studies for another year.

Meanwhile, mortars and roadside bomb attacks in the capital’s war-wracked neighbourhoods — from the mainly Sunni Arab Adhamiyya quarter and the mixed district of Dora to the formerly middle-class areas of al-Khadra and Hei al-Amil — have forced schools to shut down for months at a time.

What Iraq teaches me is a sense of humility and how lucky we are. Truly.

And I have been learning a lot lately. A lot about how teachers are valued by the board and our own union.

CTU President Marilyn Stewart, her political caucus called UPC and their "all praise to our glorious revolution of sustained unity" contract have taught me so much.

What the latest contract has taught me is that we don't deserve anything more than 4%.

We don't deserve better medical care.

We can't make things better for PAT's.

We don't deserve and can't achieve any of those things through negotiation with the City of Chicago. Just can't be done you know.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

CTU Announces Agreement: Delegate Vote Questioned

See the deal for yourself:
CTU Tentative Agreement 2007-2012

Meeting Video:

see what really happened at last night's House of delegates' meeting:
CTU Contract Meeting Aug 31, 2007

CTU Contract Meeting Aug 31, 2007 (roll call)

CTU Contract Meeting Aug 31, 2007 (sit down)

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

What the CTU Stewart/UPC Team Promised to Get Elected: Will They Deliver?

CTU Announce Deal: Details to Follow

The evening news networks are reporting today, August 29, 2007, that the CTU has tentatively agreed to a 5-year agreement with 4% raises in each year. Delegates will be presented with the tentative agreement and asked to vote on it this Friday, August 31, 2007. While we all wait, hundreds of teachers have responded to our CTU Election/Contract Survey. We will be posting the results on our website ( when the tentative agreement is released. To date, about 500 teachers anonymously completed the survey in numbers corresponding to the election outcome (i.e. 70% reporting that they voted for Stewart’s team).

When asked about the CTU election outcome, the vast majority of all respondents (88.6%) stated that they believed the membership wanted to see if the Stewart team could negotiate a better contract. Of those respondents who indicated they voted for the Stewart team, a whooping 94.3% stated that they wanted to see what the Stewart team would deliver in the contract as the reason for voting as they did. Members will soon have a chance to answer that question for themselves.

Here is what the Stewart team promised in order to get elected (source “UPC Platform”,; view original on our website):
1.) no more 4 year contracts
2.) 7% plus salary increases for all members
3.) return to the flat rate payment for health insurance
4.) elementary class size reductions
5.) summer school and after school money to be pensionable
6.) daily guaranteed prep for elementary teachers
7.) elimination of PAT language

Check out this blog and our website when the tentative contract is announced to see what members say they want, and compare this to what the Stewart team promised to get elected, and what they ultimately deliver. For an opportunity to weigh in on the discussion and analysis of a new tentative agreement, go to

Today's Trib story on tentative agreement, FYI:,0,5135001.story

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

I Wish This Was Made By The CTU and Not ASFCME

Is there anyone out there who can make one like it for the CTU when we go on strike?

Am I in a dream state or is there still a union leader here in the city of Chicago who actually says things "We don't take shit from nobody"? Will our CTU leadership? I hope so.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

New 5-Minute Survey on CTU/Contract is a blog designed by the members of to be a forum for teachers and staff to speak up and speak out on the myriad of challenging issues facing those of us who work in Chicago public schools. We will be doing periodic surveys on key issues and publishing the results on our blog and website, in addition to providing an ongoing forum for discussion and debate on critical and timely issues.

Our first anonymous 5-minute survey is on the recent CTU election outcome and on member contract priorities. If you are interested in participating, please go to our survey link and share your thoughts and opinions. We will publish the results of this survey in August.

The survey link is:

Have a well-deserved, restful summer break!

Friday, June 15, 2007

When Will NBCT's Get The Bonus?

Every year it is late. ISBE drags it feet and the CPS tries to outdo ISBE by working at a snail's pace.

If we don't get it soon, I'm calling the Governor.

This song is for all of you at ISBE and CPS payroll.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

New answer to old question

Here, for your viewing pleasure, is an answer to that old question that nags you at family reunions.

Taylor Mali: What Do Teachers Make?

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Friday is Important Naturally...

Who leads our union is vital to our continued good work in this city of challenges. And you should vote for PACT and Debbie Lynch if you believe that teachers and education should be a progressive influence in our civic life. If you are among those who might say something like "Chicago ain't ready for reform", then by all heck, no I won't say it. Just go and vote for PACT.

But I urge you, regardless of who you vote for, to realize that ours is not the most important challenge Illinois or our nation faces.

This is.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Marilyn Stewart Makes A Deal For More Charters In Chicago

The full story is here at Catalyst.

Well, well, well. What is it about incompetence that people find so attractive? Anyone who votes for these guys is just plain foolish. Marilyn and the UPC are cutting a deal in Springfield to bring more charters to Chicago. I guess losing over 2,000 dues paying teachers wasn't enough for the UPC crowd. They want to weaken our union more. This makes me sick to my stomach.

Here are some excerpts from the Catalyst story:

Chicago would get 15 new charters, but have limits placed on expansion campuses of existing charters, under proposed legislation crafted by Senate President Emil Jones Jr. and the Chicago Teachers Union.

At least three of the new charters would be required to serve chronic truants and dropouts, an idea hatched by legislators who recently visited several such schools in California.

The compromise proposal is significant because the Chicago Teachers Union and its statewide parent union, the Illinois Federation of Teachers, had made reining in charter expansion a centerpiece of their legislative agenda this year. Meanwhile, Jones had sought to double—from 30 to 60—the number of charters allowed in Chicago Public Schools.
And here is an interesting comment I found on the Catalyst comment section of this story from someone named Rod Estvan.

Now that the education funding bill has sunk, it is not at all clear that the CTU/Jones deal is still in place. CTU needs a funding bill to be able to cut a deal with CPS for pay increases. Right now there is no funding bill in sight that can pass the General Assembly. The main reason for the compromise was to get money to CPS, now that deal is gone. Will a stand alone deal on specific charter school expansion in return for limiting individual charters from having multiple sites under one charter be worth it for the CTU? I would guess it might not. Because in two years the whole issue can start again with calls for more charters, so the deal is basically meaningless.

Rod Estvan on Fri May 5, 2007 at 05:47:50 PM
Click here to read his comment in total.

What are your thoughts? Why did this story not break until this close to the election? What is going on over at the Merchandise Mart?

Monday, April 30, 2007

Gage Park in the Sun-Times, and it ain't pretty.

Sun-Times story here.

Most of the students I talked with today at Gage felt the story was unfair (not, however, untrue...even the stuff about guns outside of the building).

Students said other schools were worse off and they wanted nice things said about Gage. Some asked why no mention of the undefeated Lady Owl's softball team? Other's talked about the breakfast with the Lt. Governor celebrating Cesar Chavez. We even have a student who won at the city science fair and will be representing Gage in Springfield (Veronica Magdaleno, featured in the photo from the Sun-Times and super congrats to her!). I tried to tell them the story was about over-crowding and its impact, not a general "what's going on at Gage" story.

Yes, the story in the Sun-Times is true. But to remember why the topic of over-crowding was and is still important, I refer you to one of my first posts, a video of the protest about over-crowding. Originally posted here, I am reposting it for your viewing pleasure.

Another Edition of "Wish I said That".....

"We make learning into punishment. Learning should be exciting, inviting, an absolute turn-on. And it can be. Oh to be sure there are things that require some drill, explanation, but the amazing thing in any class is to see a kid get it, to be so involved in what s/he is doing that s/he loses track of the time, and doesn't want to stop. If we really want to leave no child behind, we have to stop the idiocy of turning school into drudgery, reducing it to test prep, and find ways of invoking the natural desire of all young people to learn. Instead of worrying "Is our children learning?" as measured by mass-produced tests, perhaps we should ask why what we are doing doesn't make them want to learn? " (Bold face mine - Ed.)
Read the whole post over at Daily Kos here. To understand what this person is saying, just walk into a kindergarten room. Rich, poor, white, black...nothing like that matters. They love school and love learning. What is it that we do as educators that has kids doing a 180 within a few years and hating the school experience? If I could answer that I would write a book and retire wealthy.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

NCLB a "Criminal Enterprise"

The death of NCLB is right around the corner. From the Boston Globe:

Reading First, created by President Bush's signature No Child Left Behind law, offers intensive reading help for low-income children in the early grades. But investigators say that federal officials intervened to influence state and local decisions about what programs to use, a potential violation of the law. Some of the people who were influencing those decisions had a financial interest in the programs that were being pushed, officials said.

"I think we're very close to a criminal enterprise here," House Education and Labor Committee chairman George Miller, D-Calif., said at an investigative hearing Friday. "Have you made any criminal referrals, Mr. Higgins?"

Well that just about sums it up.

Whenever I think of scandals on this scale, I always come back to that infamous quote from Republican strategist Grover Norquist: "My goal is to cut government in half in twenty-five years, to get it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub."

Then, natch, cue a picture of New Orleans after Katrina.

That is how it is supposed to be. It is Republican (Bush specifically) exercise in governance. It is not an accident. It is supposed to be like this.

I think the word I am looking for is "intent". When you elect people who hate government to run it, well, you end up with Katrina and Iraq, and the list goes on and on.

NCLB is dead. And I'll be glad to help with the remaining nails.

Someone hand me a hammer. Let's put this coffin in the ground.

Republicans have once again killed with incompetence what they couldn't kill with ideology.

And did Chairman Miller really expect an affirmative response when he asked if any criminal referrals had been made? Sheesh. He was, after all, talking to the party of "drown it in a bathtub".

Even he must realize that.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Two Students Shot at Chicago Vocational

Bad news, nothing else to say.


Two teens playing with a 9 mm handgun inside a Chicago classroom both ended up shot in the leg after a bullet discharged as they were passing the gun between them, police said.

The boys were sitting in the back of a science classroom at the Chicago Vocational Career Academy on the city's South Side at about 2:15 p.m. The gun discharged as one boy passed the gun to the other, striking the second boy in the thigh and the other near the knee, said Robert Lopez, an assistant deputy police superintendent...

...The teen who brought the gun to school panicked, ran outside the building and dumped the gun near the front of the building, Lopez said. A Chicago police officer assigned to the school confronted the student as he re-entered the building, and the student led him to the gun, police said.

There was conflicting information about whether all students at the school are required to pass through the building's metal detectors.

Lopez said students are chosen at random to go through the detectors because it would take too long to scan each teen.

But Michael Vaughn, a spokesman for Chicago Public Schools, said all students are required to go through metal detectors every day...

...It was the second shooting on school property in less than a month. On March 22, two students standing in the parking lot were shot and wounded after a car pulled into the lot and an occupant opened fire, Bond said.

Full Sun-Times story here.

Monday, April 09, 2007

The Essay Paper is Dead

You should read this essay (even though the essay is dead) from the Washington Post.

Here is an excerpt:

Nevertheless, the educational system needs to acknowledge what the paper is today: more of a work product that tests very particular skills -- the ability to synthesize and properly cite the work of others -- and not students' knowledge, originality and overall ability.

I envision a time when's database contains millions of essays on Charlotte Bronte's "Jane Eyre." At that point educators may finally understand that no high school student will be able to write another original word on the subject.

So let's declare "The paper is dead" before the database makes the declaration for us. And let's recognize what the paper has become, so that we can declare, "Long live the paper!"
It raises an important point. How long before the number of essays submitted to Turn It In dot com becomes so huge no kid will anything more to say about a particular subject?

Do you use Turn It In?

Union Election News at Catalyst

Union campaign heating up - A decent round up of the issues, but not much "there" there. I understand why though. I mean, why would Stewart say anything resembling the truth when dissembling works so well for her? Read the article in full here.

My favorite? Catalyst has a graphic on the number of teachers who did not yet have tenure and were "let go" by their principals the last two years (the famous "click").

This is one issue that UPC and Stewart has used to try and pillory Debbie Lynch. What UPC and Stewart never say is that under the contracts UPC had negotiated in the past, teachers could spend their entire career without ever getting tenure.


PACT and Lynch solved that problem. They forced the Board to put every new hire on the tenure track from day one. A vast improvement over the old way of doing business.

The catch? If everyone is on tenure track from day one, principals would get the right to fire when they wanted within the three year period. Seems a fair trade for ending a system where you could spend years and years not working towards tenure. I certainly think the new way is a better way.

So it turns out that UPC's complaints are not very significant (compared to working for ten years and still not having tenure like they had negotiated in the past). Yes, it turns out that most teachers find jobs at other buildings if they are let go from one building. It is not the tragedy UPC makes it out to be. But then, so few of UPC's claims survive the light of reasoned analysis anyway.

Anyways, here is the Graphic from Catalyst:

Catalyst also has a good story on rising health care costs and how, no matter who negotiates in June, will find themselves faced with a financial crisis for CPS no matter who wins:

But that increase would still provide little wiggle room during contract talks, given a cornucopia of rising costs, including teachers’ pension fund obligations, inflation and a possible deficit in the current budget. CPS is negotiating with Commonwealth Edison to hold the line on spiking utility rates.

Each percentage point increase in pay will prove pricey, costing the district roughly $25 million, says Martinez. Districts across the country are typically negotiating 3 percent to 5 percent raises, says Julia Koppich, an education consultant and former education faculty member at the University of California at Berkeley.

Chicago teachers received four percent raises in each of the last four years under the current 2003 contract, an amount that compared favorably with other urban districts. At the time, “teachers were getting 1 percent, 2 percent, if they were getting anything at all,” says Koppich.

Former union president Deborah Lynch took heat for that contract because teachers were hit with increased health care costs. But, as Koppich points out, “health care costs were going up everywhere. [The controversy] was a mystery to me.”

The controversy was a mystery to me. You said it. Now, can we finally put this misinformation to bed once and for all and get on with the job electing PACT and Lynch to represent us? At least with PACT in office, there might be fewer "Valentine's Day" parties paid for out of our dues.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

IDs of 40,000 CPS teachers at risk

From the Sun-Times:

Two laptop computers containing the names and Social Security numbers of
about 40,000 Chicago Public Schools teachers and administrators were stolen
Friday from the district's downtown headquarters, creating the second security
scare in less than six months.

CPS was offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the suspect's
arrest or recovery of the computers.

The laptops and backpack were taken from a 13th-floor conference room
where two contractors had been reviewing the history of payments to the Chicago
Teachers Pension Fund, said CPS spokesman Michael Vaughn.

The Federal Trade Commission's Identity Theft web page is located here. Please take care. I hope no CPS teacher has a problem because of this. This is very unfortunate.

Please visit the FTC to find out how to deal with ID theft.

Read the full Sun-Times story here.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Charters Are Bad Places To Work


No Union.

Simple isn't it? Read this (full story here) and tell me that getting rid of unions is a good thing:

Administrators at a Los Angeles charter school forbade students from reciting a poem about civil rights icon Emmett Till during a Black History Month program recently, saying his story was unsuitable for an assembly of young children.

Teachers and students said the administration suggested that the Till case — in which the teenager was beaten to death in Mississippi after allegedly whistling at a white woman — was not fitting for a program intended to be celebratory, and that Till's actions could be viewed as sexual harassment.

The decision by Celerity Nascent Charter School leaders roiled the southwest Los Angeles campus and led to the firing of seventh-grade teacher Marisol Alba and math teacher Sean Strauss, who had signed one of several letters of protest written by the students.

The incident highlights the tenuous job security for mostly nonunion teachers in charter schools, (Italics mine - Ed.) which are publicly financed but independently run. California has more than 600 charter schools, and their ranks continue to swell. According to the California Teachers Assn., staff at fewer than 10% of charter schools are represented by unions.

"I never thought it would come to this," said Alba, who helped her students prepare the Till presentation, in which they were going to read a poem and lay flowers in a circle. "I thought the most that would happen to me [after the event was canceled] is that I'd get talked to and it would be turned into a learning and teaching experience."

School officials refused to discuss the particulars of the teachers' firings but said the issue highlights the difficulty of providing positive images for students who are often bombarded by negative cultural stereotypes.

Without a union you are nothing more than an "at will" employee, like a McDonald's fry cook.

There is a good discussion of this story going on over at Kevin Drum's place at the Washington Monthly (read it here). Here is an excerpt from Kevin:

...I was struck this morning by Megan McArdle's latest plea for liberals to support a voucher system:

Come over to our side, outline a voucher plan you'd accept, and as long as it doesn't include "all schools must employ union teachers under centrally negotiated contracts that protect seniority and outlandish grievance procedures", I'll sign on. Central testing? Fine. You want to make sure they serve organic seaweed salad in the lunchroom? If that's what it takes to get you and other liberals into the voucher camp, I'll agree to that too. Double spending per student, for all I care.

Now, I'll confess that my support for unions isn't the most full-throated you're going to find. Personally, I have a lot of sympathy for unionization efforts in low-wage service industries, a little bit less for old-line manufacturing unions, and less still for public sector unions. But even so, I find this remarkable.

Double spending per student, for all I care. Sure, sure, this is hyperbole, but even so it represents a pretty straightforward admission of what many of us have always suspected: voucher proposals are really just a stalking horse to bust teachers unions. It implicitly assumes that the biggest contributor to poor public education in America -- so big that it's worth literally anything to get rid of them -- is the existence of grievance procedures and seniority.

Unfortunately, there's no evidence to back this up. (Bold face mine - Ed.) Unions appear to have, at most, modest and variable effects on student outcomes. Even the most hostile reading of the evidence doesn't come anywhere close to suggesting that unions are the single biggest obstacle in the way of educating our children properly. And it doesn't come within light years of suggesting that it would be worth doubling spending to get rid of them. This is anti-unionism run wild. Hating teachers unions because they oppose policies you like is one thing, but hating them even if you get your favorite policies enacted is crazy.
Why would any sane professional educator tolerate the lack of unions?

Here's two things I think should happen regarding charters in Chicago:

1) Unionize all charters. I know that they can't become members of the CTU, but they can form their own union. Someone should call the AFT or the NEA and get field organizers out here on the double.


2) Redouble lobbying efforts in Springfield to get the law changed. I don't care if it takes years, if the school is operating in Chicago and is publicly financed, they should be union schools. There can be no compromise on this issue. Public financing = union schools.

I know I risk sounding like a broken record, but the CTU did tons more to make me a better teacher than CPS ever did (continual kudos to Lynn and the NTL gang and to the man who dedicated his career to making the Quest Center the finest - Dr. Allen Bearden).

In Chicago, the teachers union is a place where improving practice has long been a big part of what they do. The CTU is more than just grievances and seniority. CPS should know better.

And that is why CTU members oppose charters.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Why is one outstanding educator more valuable than another?

I ask this because of the glaring discrepancy I see between how the Board of Ed. treated Bernie Eshoo at Lincoln Park and Jerryelyn Jones at Curie.

Both of these outstanding women were beloved by students and staff.

Both received outpourings of support at LSC meetings.

Both received outpourings of support in protests at Board meetings.

Only one was selected to have the support of the Board and the Mayor.

So what is the difference between these two amazing educators?

One is a teacher. The other is a principal.

Kinda makes you think that the people downtown don't really care about teachers, doesn't it?

Here is the text of an email sent by Ms. Eshoo to Mr. Vaughn, CPS Spokesperson:

Dear Mr. Vaughn,

I read, with interest, your comments about your/the Bd. disappointment over the Curie HS LSC vote.

A comparable situation occurred at Lincoln Park in the early fall. Nearly 900 students signed a support petition and the vast majority of staff members supported my reinstatement, the Friends of LPHS group supported me - as well as many parents, alumni, and community members.

When we contacted to the Bd . for assistance, it turned its back and hid behind “the process”. You were televised with statements supporting the fact the process of my termination was handled in a correct manner. Now that it is a well regarded competent administrator being terminated, you/the Bd. find it a disappointing and regrettable situation.

You/the Bd. should not flip flop on your evaluation of the “process”; it makes you and the Bd. members appear to be hypocrites.

Ms. Bernie Eshoo

Makes you wonder just how much the Board cares about "quality" in the classroom.

Your thoughts?

Friday, March 09, 2007

Has Curie LSC Folded on the Jones Firing?

Complete story here.

From today's Tribune:

The chairman of the Curie Metro High School local council announced Thursday that he plans to reconsider his vote to oust popular principal Jerryelyn Jones.

He attributed his change of heart to students' and parents' response to the decision, and not to pressure from Mayor Richard Daley.

Tom Ramos, who made the announcement with Chicago Public Schools Chief Arne Duncan standing at his side, said his relationship with Jones has been "difficult and combative" over the years."

But that's not a good enough reason to shut out the voices of children. We have to find another way to work together," said Ramos, who has served on at least three local school councils in recent years.

The Curie council will meet Saturday morning, and vote on whether to reconsider the Feb. 10 decision not to renew Jones' contract for another four years.
See you Saturday. This will be interesting.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

PURE Calls For Mediation Re: Curie

From a PURE email sent today:

PURE calls for independent conflict resolution at Curie High School
Contact: Julie Woestehoff, PURE executive director, 312-491-9101

In an urgent memo sent today to Chicago Public Schools top officials, Parents United for Responsible Education (PURE) called on Arne Duncan and Donald Pittman to bring in Chicago’s Center for Conflict Resolution to help manage the chaotic situation at Curie High School. The Center’s executive director, Marilyn Smith, has agreed to pitch in if asked.

PURE raised the concern that CPS officials and Mayor Daley have publicly taken the principal’s side in the dispute caused when the Curie LSC voted not to renew the principal’s contract. The problem has been exacerbated by accusations of racial discrimination.

PURE has learned that Mayor Daley and the Rev. Jesse Jackson may attend the upcoming Curie LSC meeting on Saturday morning, potentially adding fuel to an already explosive situation.

There are positive, tested ways to resolve community-based conflict. Two years ago, CPS, PURE and the Center for Conflict Resolution piloted a conflict resolution program for LSCs and schools. CPS chose not to continue the program, even though situations at both of the schools participating in the program came to a satisfying and peaceful resolution.

CPS cannot act as a neutral broker in this conflict, because Arne Duncan has taken a public position on the principal’s side.

An independent body must be brought in. It is essential for the turmoil at Curie High School to end. The principal has asked the LSC for a written statement of their reasons for non-renewal, and for independent arbitration of their non-renewal decision. The LSC has a very limited time frame in which to hire and meet with a lawyer and prepare the statement and their case, all of which is their legal duty. They must be given the opportunity to do their job.

Above all, the school must be able to continue to educate children during this process.

Bringing in independent, professional mediators at this point would help assure the thousands of LSC members across the city that the Mayor’s involvement in this situation is not an attempt to use a complex, racially-sensitive situation to further an anti-LSC agenda, and that he would not show such disrespect to the hundreds of thousands of volunteer hours LSC members spend working to improve our schools.

Letter to Arne Duncan follows.

To: Arne Duncan
From: Julie Woestehoff
Re: Curie LSC problems
Date: March 8, 2007

I urge you to engage with the Center for Conflict Resolution immediately to begin work on a real, community-based resolution to the Curie High School principal selection matter.

I'm sure you agree that the situation is dire, and that the students, the school and the community are suffering.

Having the Mayor and the CEO of the public schools take sides in this matter does not help. Screaming headlines do not help. Fanning the flames of racial tension is a disservice to everyone involved, and to the city as a whole.

We have learned enough about the climate at the school and with the LSC to believe that there is not just one side to this story, and not just a handful of people affected by racial intolerance, but that the school as a whole needs reconciliation.

The pilot program run out of the CPS School and Community Relations office with the Center for Conflict Resolution and PURE two years ago was a success to the extent that, unlike Curie, both situations were managed quietly and came to a satisfactory resolution.

Marilyn Smith, the executive director of the Center for Conflict Resolution, has offered their services, and PURE is available to participate in any and all appropriate ways.

It would be a shame if the school community and the students were further exploited for political ends, when a better way is available.
Eight O'Clock in the morning Saturday is sounding more and more interesting.

Your thoughts?

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Rumor About The Mayor and the Curie LSC

Doing anything Saturday morning?

Check out this email I got from PURE:

We are hearing that the Mayor is planning to attend the next Curie LSC meeting which is going to be this Saturday, March 10, at 8 am. Curie is located at 4959 South Archer Avenue. It would be good for some of us to show up and let the mayor know that we won't let him attack LSCs.


I hope the Mayor tells the Curie LSC all about just how many outstanding principals there are in the CPS pool. Too few I say. Too few to just throw one out on the assumption it will be easy to find to excellence again.

Rubes and fools, everyone of them.

See you Saturday? Might just be fun.

Contract Round Up Time

As the CTU contract is about to end and a new one to begin, I thought a few words were in order.

Main features of our current contract:

* Raises of 4% a year for 4 years (total=16% over 4 years).
* Health Care premiums rose from 8% to 9%.
For those who forget or weren't around, those were the biggest raises negotiated in a long long time. And the UPC along with Marilyn Stewart ran a campaign attacking Debbie Lynch and PACT for the increases we would have to pay in our health care costs.

UPC and Marilyn won and are in office. For now.

Since they have no contract or other significant achievement to run on and continue to criticize Lynch and PACT for the previous contract (without I might add, having to stand up and show what they have negotiated) I thought it might help to take a spin around the ole USA and see what other big cities have accomplished in contracts recently.

Let's have a look shall we?

Boston - March 2007: After barely avoiding a strike, BTU comes to the membership with a contract for their approval. Main features?

Under the contract, salaries would grow 13 percent over four years and employees' share of heath insurance premiums would increase from 10 percent currently to 15 percent by 2009, according to Menino. - Source: WCVB-TV Boston
Let's see, Debbie Lynch got the CTU 16% over 4 years and held down health care premiums to only 9%. Wow, that was terrible negotiating, wasn't it?

How about another big city?

Detroit - Sept. 2006: Full CNN story here. My original post on this here.

The financially struggling district initially sought a 5.5 percent pay cut over two years, part of $88 million in concessions it wanted from the 7,000 teachers and 2,500 other unionized professionals. The district has a $1.36 billion budget and is trying to close a $105 million deficit.

The union wanted raises after years without them.

The two sides eventually agreed on a one-year pay freeze, followed by increases of 1 percent the second year and 2.5 percent the third. Veteran teachers will start paying 10 percent of their health insurance costs, something that only those hired since 1992 had been doing. Teachers will lose three days' pay for three preparation days that were canceled because of the strike.
Freeze for a year, and paltry 1 and 2% raises?

And the UPC folks have been dropping hints of "strike" every couple of weeks in the press without any reason for it, since there have been no negotiations with the Board to date.

Vote PACT. Restore sanity and dignity to the CTU.

CTU and CPS Contract Negotiations...The Inside Dope

Maybe I should have said poop. Inside poop that is.

Everyone is aware that Marilyn Stewart and the UPC crowd have been all over the media dropping hints like lead bricks about a strike.

But over what you ask?

No one knows. And the UPC folks aren't talking.

I for one would like to know what I am going to give up a month's pay for if we strike. Health benefits? Raises? Class size? Charters and the privatization of education in Chicago?

At the last House of Delegates meeting Marilyn was asked for clarification. What is going on regarding the negotiations she was asked.

Her response?

Nothing. Turns out the Board of Education has yet to submit their proposals to the union, so no negotiating, no talking, no nothing has happened.

I repeat. Nothing.

This has been your source from deep inside the House of Delegates.

We now return you to your regular programming.

P.S. - Are we now supposed to cheer for the clueless? Like Hogan's Heroes? Hey Hey UPC! (They Respond: I See Nothink)

Friday, March 02, 2007

Can't Take Chicago Winters Anymore?

How about financial subsidies to live and teach in New Orleans?

Full story here.

Democrats propose N.O. teacher incentives

Details of legislation unveiled on eve of Bush trip to Gulf Coast
Thursday, March 01, 2007

By Bill Walsh

WASHINGTON -- As President Bush heads to New Orleans today to tour a school and talk about education, House Democrats are preparing to unveil legislation that would pour $250 million into the city's hurricane-ravaged school system over the next five years.

The Democrats' plan, details of which were provided to The Times-Picayune late Wednesday, would grant financial incentives to teachers and principals to stay in or move to New Orleans. It also would pay $500-per-month housing subsidies and authorize as much as $500 million in grants to universities and colleges closed by flooding after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Well, what does the south have that would attract teachers? Warm weather..ok. Right to work states...duh. Would you think of doing this?

Thursday, March 01, 2007

"Just because they are a very good principal doesn't mean you have to retain them."

"Just because they are a very good principal doesn't mean you have to retain them."
- A direct quote from Tom Ramos, chair of the local council at Curie High School.

Mr. Ramos must suffer from a deficit knowledge of how many outstanding principals there are in the CPS pool. You can read the full Tribune article that has Mr. Ramos' demonstration of knowledge here.

I used to think I had it bad when at my old school (Chicago Vocational) we had 6 principals in two and a half years. Then I read an article in Catalyst where I learned that other schools had just as bad or even worse:
Sojourner Truth Elementary School in Cabrini-Green is on its seventh principal in three years. The local school council blames central office for the turnover. Teachers blame them both. “We’ve been left out to dry,” says one. “That’s the general consensus.” Without skilled leadership at the school, tensions between factions escalated, slowing school progress.

Go on. Read the whole thing.

And Mr. (or is it Chairman) Ramos thinks finding a great principal is easy?

Schools that have great principals should do everything they can to keep them.

Instead Ramos has jettisoned a principal that is respected by staff, students, and everyone who has had the privilege to work with her.

Curie, and the community at large, is the poorer for this action.

I urge you to check out Russo's on-going coverage of this issue here, and here.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Believe it or not, a Republican said this...

Let every American, every lover of liberty, every well wisher to his posterity, swear by the blood of the Revolution, never to violate in the least particular, the laws of the country; and never to tolerate their violation by others.

As the patriots of seventy-six did to the support of the Declaration of Independence, so to the support of the Constitution and Laws, let every American pledge his life, his property, and his sacred honor;---let every man remember that to violate the law, is to trample on the blood of his father, and to tear the character [charter?] of his own, and his children's liberty. Let reverence for the laws, be breathed by every American mother, to the lisping babe, that prattles on her lap---let it be taught in schools, in seminaries, and in colleges;---let it be written in Primmers, spelling books, and in Almanacs;---let it be preached from the pulpit, proclaimed in legislative halls, and enforced in courts of justice.

And, in short, let it become the political religion of the nation; and let the old and the young, the rich and the poor, the grave and the gay, of all sexes and tongues, and colors and conditions, sacrifice unceasingly upon its altars.

-Abraham Lincoln

Can you imagine these sentiments spoken by a Republican in 2007?

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

What Will Contracts Look Like When Health Care Is Not An Issue?

I am getting the feeling that Universal Health Care is just around the corner.

And that makes me think, what will our contract look like when health care is not a bargaining point?

Take this story for example:

It is time to admit that the employer-based health care system is dead—a relic of the industrial economy. America cannot compete in the new global economy when we are the only industrialized nation on earth that puts the price of health care on the cost of our products.

That is a major drag on American business competitiveness, and job creation—and it is a stupid 21st century economic plan as well.

American business by 2008 will pay more for health care than they will make in profits. That is untenable.
Those are the words of Andy Stern, President of SEIU.

Amazingly enough, he said that at a meeting of corporate CEO's that included Wal-Mart.

Yes, that Wal-Mart.

NY Times story here.

So, if Wal-Mart and other major corporations are sitting at the table with Andy Stern discussing Universal Health Care...Well, how long before contract negotiations are reduced to teacher quality, professional development, and other issues that do not include prescription drug deductibles?

Is Daley and UPC even thinking about this?

Why Do Republicans (and Daleyites Who Are Just Barely Democrats) Hate Teacher Unions?

In my experience it always comes down to one question.

Why do unions support and defend (for lack of a better phrase) "bad" teachers?

Using this question to their political advantage, Daleyites (or those who would be called Republicans in any other part of the country) try valiantly to demonize teacher unions as defending the indefensible. The "bad teachers who don't care" about kids.

Why does no one ask who hired these awful human beings?

Why does no one suggest that "management" had four (count them: 1, 2, 3, 4) years to observe and evaluate these horrible human beings?

And after four years, management (or "those who lack oversight skills") decide they are worthy of being granted tenure.

Only then do they begin the process of wailing and lamenting.

Who let these awful people into the profession? Management.

Who trained and hired the management? Management.

Who decided who would be eligible to decide who had the power to retain new hires for four years and grant them tenure? Management.

So, why is it the fault of unions for defending those who have been selected by management as deserving of tenure?

I will posit the question one more time.

Why is Education upside down compared to other "industries"? There are phrases charters and others love to use to describe why they themselves are necessary. Things like "real world" and "competition". As if what they do have some relationship to the "business" model of capitalism or something akin to "Americanism".

But in the "real" world, when something fails, the boss gets the heave-ho and new management is brought in...right?

But, as I said, Education is upside down.

In our world, when things go right, Management gets the credit. Just like the "real" world.

But when things go wrong, the workers in the trenches get the blame. This is not like the "real" world. Even if all they did was implement the policies of the "wise" managers.

They blame unions and "bad" teachers for their failures.

And no one asks, who hired the bad ones? Who let the "bad" ones stay for four years until they got tenure?

No one blames management.

Somehow, unions take the blame.

Methinks there are journalists who are not asking the right questions as they report this ongoing story.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Let's Test All CPS Kids...Only If Every Policitician in The State....

Has to take the test every Monday morning too. Seriously, when every politician who supports this idea signs up to be tested on Monday mornings, I know we will have a winner of a policy.

What? Would they object to this amazing invasion of privacy?

So why would anyone advocate it is okay to do the same to a 17 year-old? Especially at the cost of $20.00 each. Is this district so rich it has cash to burn? 20 bucks per kid.

Think about that. According to the 2000 census (7 years out of date) there are 2,895,668 citizens in Chicago. According to the same census data there are 530,823 children of school age.

Let's just throw 30,000 out of the equation (moved, dropped out, etc.). Let's agree that CPS serves about half a million kids. Let's further stipulate that CPS would only test high school kids. That leaves, what? 150,000 kids in the high schools? Am I low balling or high balling that number? Let's give CPS the benefit and call it 100,000 kids in high schools.

At 20 bucks each, CPS would need 2 million dollars. And that is just to test kids once.

Since the school in New Jersey is using federal dollars, my question is are there really that many idiots working in Congress and the White House who think testing kids is a good use of federal tax revenues? And if they believe in it so much, would they be willing to send us here in Chicago...oh, say 10 tests worth of cash for all our high school kids. Say one test a month for the school year. All we need is 20 million dollars.

Oh, and we'll do just what the NJ school will do. Even if the kids test positive, there will be no penalty. According to the AP story "Students who test positive for alcohol will not be kicked off teams or barred from extracurricular activities. Instead, they will receive counseling and their parents will be notified, Reynolds said."

So, yes, whoever you are in the Congress or Administration, I say send us 20 million and...well, let's just say you can ask for an accounting of how we spent it once you find the missing billions in Iraq. But I know lots of people who could use that cash to help our kids.

Full story here. Here are some choice lines:
(AP) - PEQUANNOCK, New Jersey-Some teenagers who drink over the weekend could be in big trouble Monday morning: A school district plans to start random urine tests capable of detecting whether alcohol was consumed up to 80 hours earlier.

Pequannock Township High, with about 800 students, said it will begin administering the tests Monday.....

Critics say common household products such as mouthwash can produce a positive test result. Reynolds said the test has been recalibrated so that for students to test positive, they would generally have to consume one or two drinks.

The EtG test costs about $20 (€15), Reynolds said. The school's overall testing program is funded by a three-year, $120,000 (€92,506) U.S. grant.

"No one's really taking it seriously. If you want to go to a party, you're still going to go to a party," senior Matt Huber said.
We are truly ruled by fools. Rubes, every one.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Please Go Visit and Comment at Russo's 299

An excellent conversation is going on over at Russo's 299 blog.

All about new teachers and how (if so desired) to keep them in the system working for our kids.

Please click here and say something.

A Show of Hands

Hat tip to Desi (original post here)

Sunday, January 28, 2007

More Promises From The Tribune Editorial Page

You can read it all here, but it appears the Trib is coming out full force for a change how Illinois funds schools.

Have the powers that be finally tired of being reminded that the way they fund schools ranks them 49th out of 50?

Will wonders never cease? Here is the money quote:

In Illinois, though, state aid accounts for less than 34 percent of school costs. The resulting overreliance squeezes businesses and homeowners. Local school districts wind up with profoundly inequitable amounts of money per pupil.

These editorials will address three questions:

How much revenue is needed to provide every child with an adequate education?

What is the most efficient way to raise money for schools without putting too much burden on the state economy?

How should that money be spent to give every schoolchild a fighting chance to succeed?

Unless Illinois voters and their legislators coalesce around good answers for those three questions, expect a decades-long pattern of mediocrity in education to continue.

The proof for me will be in how the Trib answers those three questions. Better yet, how does Daley and CPS answer those questions?

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Honey, Let's Have Pizza For Valentine's!!

Hat tip to Russo's District 299 for letting us all know about the romantic get-away offered by Marilyn and the UPC folks at the Merchandise Mart.

I would laugh but April first is so far away.

Won't someone please send us photo's of the lucky couples who are part of the first 150?

They get free pizza.

Romance is in the air.

Now, who will go to the house of delegates and request an audit. If one cent of union dues is used for this....arrrgggghhh.

Is impeachment for stupidity part of the by-laws?

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

The Job Protection Record of UPC and Marilyn Stewart

In the four years that Marilyn Stewart has been president, the union has lost membership...BIG TIME. More than 4,000 dues paying members have simply vanished from the membership rolls. This information comes straight from the CTU's own reports.

This is a bigger number than can be explained by maternity leave or retirement. It is an abject failure on the part of UPC and Stewart to stem the growth of charters, contract schools and the devastating effects of RenTen and the privatization of public education in this city.

From 2003 to 2007, more than 270 high school teachers disappeared from union membership. In the same time period, more than 2,600 elementary teachers went missing.

More than a 1,200 ESP's are gone.

UPC, under the leadership of Marilyn Stewart, has done worse than nothing when it comes to job protection. And the children of Chicago are not better served with her 4 years of "leadership."

But don't worry, UPC team members get perks like conferences in Hawaii. Yeah, that got the job done for the rank and file. Way to go UPC! Good use of union dues!

In the 2003 election campaign, I remember Marilyn Stewart's famous quote that the CTU was a "union, not a university."

Many took offense that she was implying that the outstanding professional development offered by the Quest Center was somehow a misuse of union resources.

But I guess people wanted a back to basics style know, grievances and arbitration. In short, people voted for "job protection", the most basic function of a union. (On a side note, many people didn't trust her with even that, since the election was decided 50.1% to 49.9%.)

Marilyn Stewart has failed.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Leadership Can Make A Difference

On October 28, 2006 in a post titled "Lead, Follow, Or Get Out Of The Way" I said that now that Democratic party is firmly in control of the levers of government in Illinois, school funding must change.

It took a little more than two months, but I am glad someone over at city hall is listening.

As reported in today's Chicago Tribune, Mayor Daley has taken up the challenge.
After decades of debate, the time has finally come to change the way schools are funded in Illinois now that Democrats are in such complete control of state government, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley said Thursday.

Daley, who supports a so-called tax swap that would increase the income-tax rate while lowering property taxes, said lawmakers need to take into account all of the ideas for changing school funding and agree on a solution. He said his fellow Democrats, who increased their control of both the House and Senate and retained the governor's office in the November election, should lead the way.

"We have talked about this for 25 years," Daley said. "Now, no one wants to sit here and talk about it for another 25 years. The time has come to start the debate anew, seize the opportunity for reform."
I salute you Mayor and hope that you know I got your back on this.

Fix this and then we can chat about this charter thing you seem to like so much.
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